The State of the Church: The Divine Purpose – part 2
No one knows when they will breathe their last, so it’s hard to plan what you’re going to say when your life ends. Here’s some famous last words:
Elvis Presley concluded his final public appearance before his death, saying, “I hope I haven’t bored you.”
Benjamin Franklin responded to his daughter on his deathbed after she told him to roll over so he could breathe more easily, saying, “A dying man can do nothing easy.”
Winston Churchill was perhaps most famous for saying, “Never, never give up.” His life concluded with words that were not so inspiring. He said, “I’m bored with it all.”
I don’t know what my last words will be, but I hope to say something like John Wayne. Before dying at 72, he turned to his wife and said, “Of course I know who you are. You’re my girl. I love you.”
Jesus did not speak His last words as a dying man, but the Resurrected One who triumphed over the grave. In victory, He issued the divine purpose, a co-mission with His followers to free people from the power of sin and death.
SCRIPTURE – Hear What God Says to Us
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
EXPLORATION – Dig Deep to Understand
The Authority of Jesus
Growing up, people at our church called our pastors “Pastor” and not their name. So when I answered God’s call to vocational ministry, I had an unspoken expectation for people in the church to call me “Pastor.” Jesus had to teach me the importance of serving His church with a towel and not a title.
Our LORD said, “ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and earth has been given to me.” Christ reigns supreme. Therefore, any position of authority we receive was given to us by Jesus – whether in the church, our families, within our community, at work, or wherever.
The Mission of Jesus
By His authority, Jesus assigned His church a singular mission. The great commission calls believers to one thing: MAKE DISCIPLES. This remains Jesus’ imperative and command for all time. Our LORD did not urge us to produce converts, but Christ’s followers who will walk in His footsteps.
Just like Jesus’ first disciples, believers today fulfill this mission in three ways. First, Jesus wants us to INVITE others to join us in following in. Our English Bibles translate “Therefore, go” as an imperative, but our going is the first of three active participles, better translated “As you go” or “Wherever we go.” In our homes, at work, school, or anywhere in the community, we are called by Jesus to extend His invitation “Come, follow me.”
Second, believers make disciples as we INCLUDE new Christ-followers within the church. Jesus wants us to encourage others to make a profession of their faith, “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
The third step continues the process of making disciples as we INSTRUCT Christ-followers to walk faithfully in His footsteps by “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Let us not forget example proves to be the best teacher, so let us therefore, like Paul, encourage others to imitate our example as we daily walk like Jesus. (See 1 Corinthians 11:1).
The Presence of Jesus
The One whom the prophet and angel announced came as Emmanuel, which means God with us, leaves His disciples and us with the promise “I am with you always, to the end of the age” Therefore, let us remember that the mission of Christ is a CO-MISSION WITH HIM. Therefore, we need not grow weary with the activity of doing, but walk with Jesus, who will both empower and give us rest.
EXECUTION – Put God’s Word into Practice
Let us choose to lay down our titles and serve one another with a towel like Jesus. (See John 13:5). We have not been called to exercise authority over one another, but to submit to Christ and one another. (See Ephesians 5:21, 24a).
Sometimes we get busy doing good things with lots of church activity, but we have strayed from the singular mission to make disciples. Which area have we seemed to neglect in helping people follow Jesus: INVITE, INCLUDE, or INSTRUCT?
Has church business caused us to grow weary from the routine of seemingly endless activity? Let’s remember Jesus is with us, so come to Him and find rest.
DEPENDENCE – Look to God for Help
LORD Jesus, You called us to take part with You in a singular mission to reproduce Christ-followers. Forgive us for striving with human energy to accomplish what we can only do through Your life within us. Thank You for Your promise to be with us always. Holy Spirit, help us find rest in Jesus and relay upon His resurrection power to bring life to others. Equip us with your love to welcome them into Your forever family and lead them to follow in Your footsteps.
The State of the Church: part 1 – Matthew 16:15-18
This message or series can be used anytime, but makes for a good annual reminder either at the beginning of the year or in conjunction with your church business meeting.
Here is the background of the church shown above without words for you to use as your presentation background.
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